Sunday, November 23, 2014

Four Moroccan Films Make it to Mediterranean Film Fest

Four Moroccan films, Adios CarmenTraitorsThe Flour Bag and Fevers were selected for the Brussels Mediterranean Film Festival from the 5th to 12th December
The films tap into the prevailing zeitgeist surrounding children and family relationships. At times confronting, at times harrowing, they are all films to look out for. 

Adios Carmen is directed by Mohamed Amin Benamraoui. Set in 1975 it is the story of 10-year-old Amar who lives in a village in the Rif (northern Morocco) with his violent uncle, waiting for the unlikely return of his mother, who has left for Belgium. He finds a friend in Carmen, his neighbor, who is a Spanish exile and who works as an usher at the village cinema. Carmen helps him discover a world previously unknown to him.

Amar (Benjalil Amanallah) and Carmen (Paulina Gálvez)

Mohamed Amin Benamraoui (born in Morocco) came to Brussels in the mid-1980s and studied cinema under Thierry Zeno. Adios Carmen is his first feature. Benamraoui has produced a number of short films and has also worked as a radio presenter and a programme planner for several Berber festivals. Adios Carmen was produced by Taziri Productions, the soundtrack composed by Khalid Izri. The film won the first prize at the Arab Film Festival in Malmo (October 2014).

Fevers is the third feature film by Hicham Ayouch after Tizaoul (2006) and Cracks (2009). The film is a harrowing vision of the complexity of family relationships. Benjamin, aged 13, is battling against life, against the adults, against himself. Scarred and tormented, he's grown up without a father and with a completely troubled mother. Moving from shelter to shelter since he's five years old, Benjamin can't stand authority nor confinement which causes him to constantly escape.

Eventually, his mother goes to prison revealing to the social services and to Benjamin the identity of his father. To Benjamin the objective is simple: to quit the shelter, so, when given the choice, he decides to go to live with his father.

Karim Zeroubi, his father, is a broken up man on his forties who still lives at his parents at the Parisian suburban ghetto, which he has never left. A warehouseman at a supermarket, he rather waits for death than contents himself with his little life. Benjamin's presence will completely turn upside down the life of his father and his family. His father tries clumsily to bond with him but ends up utterly overwhelmed by this wild, cruel child. Randomly wandering through the suburbs, Benjamin comes across Claude, a cranky poet who lives in a caravan lost in the middle of nowhere. Their relationship is built of surrealistic and poetic exchanges.

Hicham Ayouch is a Moroccan director born in 1976. He is a former journalist, he worked in several French channels before he became a writer and a director. He began with two documentaries The King’s Queens about the status of the women in Morocco and Angel’s Dust about autistic teenagers. He also directed two features, Heart Edges a story of a dead fisherman village and recently Cracks, a love triangle between three misfits in Tangiers.

The third Moroccan film showing of the 14th edition of the Brussels Mediterranean Film Festival is Traitors, the first feature film by American actor residing in Tangier, Sean Gullette. The film, released in 2013, is an 86 minute brush portrait of alienated youth who seek to improve their socio-economic situation.

Malika is the leader of the all-female punk rock band Traitors, with a strong vision of the world, her hometown of Tangier, and her place in it. When she needs money to save her family from eviction, and to realize her dreams for the band, Malika agrees to a fast cash proposition: a smuggling run over the mountains for a dangerous drug dealer. But her companion on the road is Amal, a burnt-out young drug mule, who Malika decides to free from her enslavement to the dangerous drug dealers. The challenge will put Malika's rebel ethos to the test, and to survive she will have to call on all her instincts and nerve.

The Flour Bag by filmmaker Khadija Leclere is the fourth film selected. Again it is a tale of a young person in trouble. Only eight years old, Sarah, who grew up in a Catholic convent school, is abducted by her father to Morocco. A completely different life begins: Sarah now has to find her way in a Muslim extended family and get used to new customs. Nine years later, the little girl has become a self-confident young woman who has only one wish: She wants to Belgium to go back and be a writer. But things do not go as she intended.

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